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Can Green Tea Help Detect Cancer?

March 24, 2015

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A recently published research study reported that compounds in green tea could be used to improve the image quality of MRI’s- making it easier for doctors to see and treat cancer cells.

Compounds from green tea could boost the quality of biomedical imaging. Green tea’s popularity has grown quickly in recent years. Its fans can drink it, enjoy its flavor in their ice cream and slather it on their skin with lotions infused with it. Now, the tea could have a new, unexpected role — to improve the image quality of MRIs. Scientists have reported in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces that they successfully used compounds from green tea to help image cancer tumors in mice.

Sanjay Mathur and colleagues note that recent research has revealed the potential usefulness of nanoparticles — iron oxide in particular — to make biomedical imaging better. But the nanoparticles have their disadvantages. They tend to cluster together easily and need help getting to their destinations in the body. To address these issues, researchers have recently tried attaching natural nutrients to the nanoparticles. Mathur’s team wanted to see if compounds from green tea, which research suggests has anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties, could play this role.

Using a simple, one-step process, the researchers coated iron-oxide nanoparticles with green-tea compounds called catechins and administered them to mice with cancer. MRIs demonstrated that the novel imaging agents gathered in tumor cells and showed a strong contrast from surrounding non-tumor cells. The researchers conclude that the catechin-coated nanoparticles are promising candidates for use in MRIs and related applications.

This story was originally published by the American Chemical Society

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